Cinema breaks the chains, 10 films on modern-day slavery

On the occasion of the International Day for Abolition of Slavery here is a list of films to examine a terrible phenomenon.

Forced labour, trafficking of children and women, domestic slavery, forced prostitution, sexual slavery, forced marriages, sale of wives, forced recruitment of child soldiers. There are many forms of modern-day slavery that affect millions of people in the whole world. The abolition of this social pathology is also promoted by knowledge and education and cinema is one of the best ways of spreading ideas and raising awareness on those issues. Here are ten films on new forms of slavery.


Born into brothels, by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski (2004)

India, in a red-light district some children of prostitutes, thanks to photographer Zana Briski, try to emancipate from their path of destiny.


Food chains, by Sanjay Rawal (2013)

In Sanjay Rawal’s documentary film Forest Whitaker tells the story of a group of farmworkers in Florida, their back-breaking working conditions and their protests for starvation wages.


At the end of slavery, by Danny Glover (2013)

This documentary deals with the horrors hidden behind the modern-day forms of slavery, from the purchase and sale of human beings to the brothels in the Philippines.


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Black Gold, by Mark Francis and Nick Francis (2012)

Black gold analyses the exploitation of coffee farmers in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. The film follows Tadesse Meskela on a mission to save his 74,000 coffee farmers from bankruptcy. He travels the world in an attempt to find buyers willing to pay an adequate price for them.


Very young girls, by Nina Alvarez (2008)

A close-up look at the American sex market and sex exploitation of young girls in New York.


Child Camel Jockeys (2012)

In the Middle East camel racing is a very popular “sport” in which not only are the animals exploited but also children working as jockeys. This documentary focuses on the work of Ansar Burney in the United Arab Emirates to eradicate this form of child slavery.


Call + response, by Justin Dillon (2008)

This documentary shows that there are more slaves today than when slavery was legal revealing the data of this phenomenon.


Freedom: indifference is not an option (2012)

The film tells the true stories of three people who were held captive and exploited as modern-day slaves. “Ignorance is not an excuse. Indifference is not an option”.


Not today, by Jon Van Dyke (2013)

While on vacation with friends in India, Caden Welles, a spoiled young man, initially refuses to help a starving man and his daughter but from that moemnt on his life changes forever.


The price of sugar, by Bill Haney (2007)

Modern-day slaves are mostly found in the farming field. This film describes the journey of Father Christopher Hartley, a Spanish priest, throughout the Dominican Republic and the inhumane conditions in which thousands of Haitian men are forced to work to harvest sugar cane.

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